Auburn, Ala.—For redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Chad Slade the preseason has been about versatility. Playing both tackle and guard last season for the Tigers, Slade has continued that trend in the first nine practices for the Tigers as he has played both right tackle and right guard for Coach Jeff Grimes.
With so many young players vying for a spot in the starting lineup on the offensive line Grimes has been moving guys around every day to try to get a feel for what his top five will be come Sept. 1 against Clemson in the Georgia Dome. That means plenty of moving for Slade and a tough preseason.
“I’m versatile, going at both tackle and guard,” Slade said. “I’m trying to make a drastic improvement at either one. Wherever coach wants to put me I’m always going to be ready. I’m just getting better and better every day at which position I play.
“It’s tough, but it’s getting better and better every day,” he added about playing both positions. “You come in early in the morning and learn the playbook and watch film early. You just do everything you can do to make yourself better. It’s going to be tough learning new stuff, but you just have to get used to it and get your mentality right.”
With Slade working at right guard it has put a pair of true freshmen in the running at right tackle with Patrick Miller and Avery Young splitting the reps there. Because John Sullen has been slowed this preseason it has meant even more young players have been thrown into the mix at guard with Alex Kozan and Jordan Diamond mixing in with the first team at left guard. Slade said so far all of the young players have shown him they came to compete.
“Avery Young has impressed me and Alex Kozan,” Slade said. “They have impressed me the most and Jordan Diamond, he’s really impressed me. They go out every day with the mentality that they’re going to get better. They knew when they signed that they had a chance to compete for a starting job. They came out here ready to play. I think each and every day they are going to get better. They are fighting with us for a job and so far they are doing a good job of it.”
Heading into the second scrimmage of the preseason on Saturday, Slade said the goal remains the same for the offensive line and that is to compete at a very high level. No matter who winds up playing on the starting five Slade said that the group is pulling together for the greater cause, success in 2012.
“I feel like we’re coming together good and have a bond together,” Slade said. “We hang out with each other. We know that it’s on us. Without the five (offensive line) we’re not going to be able to run the ball. We came together as a team. We know we’ve got to get better every day. We come in early in the morning and watch film together. We go out early before practice and do technique work. They’re going to depend on us first so we go out each and every day knowing we’ve got to do our job so the running backs and quarterbacks can do their job.”
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